In a region that is largely unchurched, a team of ministers is planting a congregation with an unusual approach. Ordained pastor Beth Backes is set to launch The Table Church in Federal Way, Washington, in April.
Backes, 46, has served as director of credentialing and pastoral care at the Assemblies of God Northwest Ministry Network for 14 years. Backes, who has 12 years of church planting experience, recently finished her doctorate in educational leadership from Southeastern University.
As lead pastor of The Table Church, Backes has organized a launch team of 30 and a core team of 12. The launch team, made up of AG ministers and local residents, meets once a month. The new church will kick off with monthly messages in January and go weekly in April.
The Table Church will present the gospel around a table in a talk-show style. Backes and several others will speak the messages in a conversational way. The church will be a hybrid of online and in-person, with each message recorded.
“It’s going to take that kind of approach to create spaces where people can belong to a church community while exploring faith,” says Backes.
The church recently recorded its first message with Rowlanda N. Cawthon, dean of the College of Business at Northwest University. Cawthon, 44, is part of the core launch team and is bringing her business knowledge to The Table.
Jeffery S. Portmann, director of the AG’s Church Multiplication Network, recently met with the church’s launch team at a CMN training event in Seattle. Portmann, who planted newhope church in nearby Puyallup before becoming CMN director in 2020, is confident about The Table’s unorthodox preaching format.
“We need new expressions of the church,” says Portmann, 50. “The freshness of what they’re doing will definitely reach some people that a traditional model might not.”
Backes believes many Federal Way residents long for community, but because the Seattle area lacks a church culture, Sunday morning attendance is an obstacle. The Table Church will be meeting on Saturday nights.
The church will focus on reaching young people, as half the Federal Way population is under the age of 35. Federal Way is also one of the most racially diverse cities in America, with 111 languages spoken in households of public school students.
The Table Church launch team is diverse, represented by African American, Hispanic, white, and Malaysian members.
“It’s a picture of what heaven will look like,” says Portmann. “It’s men and women, different generations, and multiple ethnicities.”
An ethnically diverse worship team will lead praise and worship songs that combine cultures. One number might have a gospel style, while another will include a Spanish verse.
“I’m excited to see how their unique style, format and expression will stir other people across the nation to try things,” says Portmann.
The Table Church has partnered with 15 other AG congregations across the country for funding, raising $150,000 in cash commitments.